# The US needs the Census in order to keep up with societal change

Even amid COVID-19, data collection for the 2020 Census continues. Recent Census data helps provide a reminder of why we need the Census:

The new data shows that, by 2019, the white population share declined nearly nine more percentage points, to 60.1%. The Latino or Hispanic and Asian American population shares showed the most marked gains, at 18.5% and nearly 6%, respectively. While these groups fluctuated over the past 40 years, either upward (for Latinos or Hispanics and Asian Americans) or downward (for whites), the Black share of the population remained relatively constant.

The declining white population share is pervasive across the nation. Since 2010, the white population share declined in all 50 states (though not Washington, D.C.) (download table A), and in 358 of the nation’s 364 metropolitan areas and 3,012 of its 3,141 counties. Moreover, as of 2019, 27 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas have minority-white populations, including the major metropolises of New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Miami—as well as Dallas, Atlanta, and Orlando, Fla., which reached this status by 2010 (download Table B).

Most noteworthy is the increased diversity in the younger portion of the population. In 2019, for the first time, more than half of the nation’s population under age 16 identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Among this group, Latino or Hispanic and Black residents together comprise nearly 40% of the population. Given the greater projected growth of all nonwhite racial minority groups compared to whites—along with their younger age structure—the racial diversity of the nation that was already forecasted to flow upward from the younger to older age groups looks to be accelerating…

The unanticipated decline in the country’s white population means that other racial and ethnic groups are responsible for generating overall growth. Nationally, the U.S. grew by 19.5 million people between 2010 and 2019—a growth rate of 6.3%. While the white population declined by a fraction of a percent, Latino or Hispanic, Asian American, and Black populations grew by rates of 20%, 29%, and 8.5%, respectively. The relatively small population of residents identifying as two or more races grew by a healthy 30%, and the smaller Native American population grew by 7.6%.

This is important data to have regardless of what people make of this data. Having an organization that collects and reports important data is valuable to residents, scholars, and policy makers. With good data, people can now examine and use the patterns and trends.

At the same time, it is interesting to see how the Census is trying to market participation in the 2020 Census:

The emphasis here is more on what residents might get out of the process – federal funds, political representation – with a final reminder of the government mandate since 1790.

Together, this suggests having good data is critical for understanding and responding to social change. Without such data, we are left with triangulated data or anecdotes that do not inspire confidence. The United States is a large country with many interest groups. While other organizations might be able to collect similar data, having it done by the government offers some advantages (though the Census process has long been politicized).

# Death knell for Republicans in Illinois’s 6th congressional district?

Democrat Sean Casten unseated Republican incumbent Peter Roskam in a House race in the 6th Congressional District in Illinois. Does this signal the end of Republican dominance in this suburban district? Some points to consider:

1. This has been a Republican district since the early 1970s. Before that, the District was represented by a Democrat since the late 1920s and dominated by Republicans between the Civil War and 1911. Long-time representative Henry Hyde passing the seat to Peter Roskam may be the recent history but the district has more variation over the years.
2. The demographics of these suburban areas has changed quite a bit. Like many American suburbs, the Chicago suburbs have become increasingly non-white and more diverse in terms of social class. The area covered by the district today is not the same white, middle-class swath that it may have once appeared to be.
3. Redistricting and changing boundaries has happened with the 6th in the past and could happen again in the future. Read more about Illinois redistricting efforts in the 1970s and early 2000s. Some background on this particular district:

Roskam replaced conservative icon U.S. Rep. Henry Hyde in Congress, but much of his old territory in eastern DuPage County is now represented by U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley of Chicago and Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg, both Democrats.

4. The patterns of voting in the Chicago area suburbs mirror larger trends about suburban voters. The 6th district as well as several other House districts are comprised of the middle ground between Democratic voters in the big city and close suburbs and Republican voters in more rural areas and outer suburbs. These are the battleground areas and this will likely continue in future election cycles.

All this said, there are no guarantees in this district. Multiple factors could sway voters in this district in the near and far future including changes in what the national parties stand for (and what presidential candidates are leading the way), increasing diversity in the suburbs, possible redistricting, and particular concerns and issues that may resonate voters in the middle suburbs. As the suburbs continue to be important areas for both parties to try to pick up seats, expect this district to continue to be contested for at least a few elections to come.

# Google Street View, machine learning, and social patterns

I have wondered why more researchers do not make use of Google Street View. Here is a new study that connects vehicles in neighborhoods with voting patterns and demographics:

Abstract: The United States spends more than $250 million each year on the American Community Survey (ACS), a labor-intensive door-to-door study that measures statistics relating to race, gender, education, occupation, unemployment, and other demographic factors. Although a comprehensive source of data, the lag between demographic changes and their appearance in the ACS can exceed several years. As digital imagery becomes ubiquitous and machine vision techniques improve, automated data analysis may become an increasingly practical supplement to the ACS. Here, we present a method that estimates socioeconomic characteristics of regions spanning 200 US cities by using 50 million images of street scenes gathered with Google Street View cars. Using deep learning-based computer vision techniques, we determined the make, model, and year of all motor vehicles encountered in particular neighborhoods. Data from this census of motor vehicles, which enumerated 22 million automobiles in total (8% of all automobiles in the United States), were used to accurately estimate income, race, education, and voting patterns at the zip code and precinct level. (The average US precinct contains 1,000 people.) The resulting associations are surprisingly simple and powerful. For instance, if the number of sedans encountered during a drive through a city is higher than the number of pickup trucks, the city is likely to vote for a Democrat during the next presidential election (88% chance); otherwise, it is likely to vote Republican (82%). Our results suggest that automated systems for monitoring demographics may effectively complement labor-intensive approaches, with the potential to measure demographics with fine spatial resolution, in close to real time. The researchers created an algorithm to identify the brand, model and year of every car sold in the US since 1990. The types of cars also provided information about the race, income and education levels of a neighborhood, the study said. Volkswagens and Aston Martins were associated with white neighborhoods while Chryslers, Buicks and Oldsmobiles tended to appear in African-American neighborhoods, the study found. This study seems to do two things that get at different areas of research: 1. Linking lifestyle choices to voting behavior as well as other social traits. Researchers and marketers have done this for decades. For example, see this earlier post about media consumption and voting behavior. This hints at the work Bourdieu who suggested class status is defined by cultural tastes and lifestyles in addition to access to resources and power. 2. Connecting different publicly available big data sets to find connections. Google Street View is available to all and election outcomes are also accessible. All it takes is a method to put these two things together. Here, it was a machine learning algorithm by which different kinds of vehicles could be identified. It would take humans a long time to connect these pieces of data but algorithms, once they correctly are identifying vehicles, can do this very quickly. Of course, this still leaves us with questions about what to do with it all. The authors seem interested in helping facilitate more efficient national data-gathering efforts. The American Community Survey and the Dicennial Census are both costly efforts. Could machine learning help reduce the effort needed while providing accurate results? At the same time, it is less clear regarding the causal mechanisms behind these findings: do people buy pick-up trucks because they are Republican? How does this choice of a vehicle fit with a larger constellation of behaviors and beliefs? If someone wanted to change voting patterns, could encouraging the purchase of more pick-up trucks or sedans actually change voting patterns (or are these more of correlations)? # Chicago suburbs largely go for Clinton Bucking historical trends, all but McHenry County in the Chicago suburbs went for Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party of DuPage got a sudden influx of young foot soldiers, like organizer Alex Franklin, who campaigned for charismatic Democrat Bernie Sanders until the Vermont senator conceded to Clinton in July, then went to work for Clinton. Clinton won DuPage County by 14 percentage points on Tuesday. “If you look at the holes right now, even where Democrats lost in DuPage there were absurdly high numbers, which are a direct result of the Sanders people and what we were doing out here,” said Franklin, of Glen Ellyn. He sees the merger of Clinton and Sanders supporters as the beginning of a beautiful friendship that will spill over into spring municipal elections… This year, support for local candidates by minorities down ballot helped Clinton at the top of the ticket, experts said… Shunning the New York billionaire might have cost Illinois Republicans down ballot, said Mark Fratella, a Trump delegate and Addison Township GOP organizer. A variety of explanations. Yet, one is ignored here: the Chicago suburbs have experienced a lot of demographic change in recent decades: more non-white residents, more immigrants moving directly to the suburbs (rather than to neighborhoods of Chicago first), more lower and working-class residents. In other words, the images of Lake County and the North Shore or DuPage County as looking like Lake Forest, Highland Park, Hinsdale, Elmhurst, and Wheaton (all white and wealthy) simply do not hold. A great graphic shows the change over time in recent elections: The trends are clearly away from Republicans in the collar counties. See earlier posts about presidential candidates fighting over the suburban vote here and here. # The geography of minority majority counties In 370 counties across 36 states and the District of Columbia, non-Hispanic whites accounted for less than half the population as of July 2015. That includes 31 additional counties since 2010, such as those encompassing Fort Worth and Austin in Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and parts of suburban Atlanta and Sacramento, Calif. Of the nation’s 3,142 counties, the so-called minority majority ones—12% of the total—represent an outsize chunk of the U.S. population since they are home to almost one-third of Americans… In Texas, Latinos are the main group driving the shift, primarily because they are younger and have more children than whites, said Texas State Demographer Lloyd Potter. Whites are also moving out of the urban cores of Fort Worth and Austin. A notable uptick in Asian immigrants is also diversifying these cities, Mr. Potter said. Immigration from Mexico has slowed so much that the percentage of immigrants coming to Texas from Asia is almost as high as the share coming from Latin America. “That’s a very dramatic shift in a relatively short period of time,” he said. In other words, there are two processes going on: 1. The spread of minorities – particularly new groups since the 1965 Immigration Act – throughout all parts of the United States, including rural areas. 2. Continued concentration of non-whites in large urban centers. There is enough demographic change taking place across the country that many communities have new populations even as minority majority counties are still limited. All of this probably contributes to some of the geographic divides of today such as competing interests between urban, suburban, and rural groups as well as Democrats having city votes, Republicans having rural votes, and the parties fighting over suburban votes. # Detailed map of population changes in Europe, 2001-2011 Look at the Eastern section of the map and you’ll see that many cities, including Prague, Bucharest, and the Polish cities of Pozna? and Wroc?aw, are ringed with a deep red circle that shows a particularly high rise in average annual population of 2 percent or more. As this paper from Krakow’s Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Geography notes, Eastern cities began to spread out in the new millennium because it was their first chance to do so in decades… We already know from other available data that Europe is experiencing a migration to the northwest, but the BBSR map adds complexity to this picture and reveals some interesting micro-trends. The dark blue coloring of the map’s Eastern section shows that the lean years for Eastern states are by no means over. Residents have continued to leave Albania, Bulgaria and Latvia in particular in search of jobs, while even relatively wealthy eastern Germany has been hollowed out almost everywhere except the Berlin region. Population growth in the Northwest, meanwhile, is far from even. While large sections of Northern Scandinavia’s inland are losing people, there’s still modest growth on the Arctic coasts. And while the Scottish Highlands contain some the least peopled lands in all of Europe, Scotland’s Northeast shows remarkable population gains, a likely result of the North Sea oil industry concentrated in Aberdeen… Spain’s trends look a little different from those of Europe as a whole. It’s actually in the country’s Northwest where the population has dropped most sharply, notably in the provinces of Galicia and León, which have long been known to produce many of Spain’s migrants. But other previously impoverished regions, such as Southwestern Murcia, have grown, a trend continuing along the Mediterranean coast where population levels have risen sharply. All of this may help explain reactions to migrants – population pressure is high in some places, particularly wealthier regions, while population loss is occurring in more economically depressed areas. It is also a helpful reminder of how relatively free people are to move between places. I don’t know how exactly this lines up with historic migration rates – particularly before the rise of nation-states which presumably allowed more of an ability to control population flows – but the industrialized world (and much of the rest of the world as well) is quite a mobile one. # Census projects record proportion of foreign-born residents in 2060 The nation’s foreign-born population is projected to reach 78 million by 2060, making up 18.8% of the total U.S. population, according to new Census Bureau population projections. That would be a new record for the foreign-born share, with the bureau projecting that the previous record high of 14.8% in 1890 will be passed as soon as 2025. Yet while Asian and Hispanic immigrants are projected to continue to be the main sources of U.S. immigrant population growth, the new projections show that the share of the foreign born is expected to fall among these two groups. Today, 66.0% of U.S. Asians are immigrants, but that share is predicted to fall to 55.4% by 2060. And while about a third of U.S. Hispanics (34.9%) are now foreign-born, the Census Bureau projects that this share too will fall, to 27.4% in 2060. These declines are due to the growing importance of births as drivers of each group’s population growth. Already, for Hispanics, U.S. births drive 78% of population growth… The U.S. today has more immigrants than any other nation. As the nation’s immigrant population grows, so too will the number of children who have at least one immigrant parent. As of 2012, these second generation Americans made up 11.5% of the population, and that share is expected to rise to 18.4% by 2050, according to Pew Research Center projections. This is the first time in 14 years the Census Bureau has made projections of the foreign-born population. Predicting future immigration and birth trends is a tricky process, and the bureau has substantially changed its projections from year to year in light of reduced immigration and birth rates. While these numbers are sure to contribute to political debate about current policies, they continue trends started in the late 1960s where immigration policies were changed. Additionally, the projections suggest the United States is still a desirable place to immigrate to and that the growing foreign-born population is a significant contributor to the overall growing population of the US. I would be interested to hear about the discussions behind the scenes regarding the 14 year gap in making such projections. How much of this was guided by politics? What are the upper and lower bounds of the confidence intervals for these projections? Have our projection abilities improved significantly? # 266 US counties have white populations under 50% but are the same processes at work in all of them? Pew crunched Census numbers from the 2,440 U.S. counties that had more than 10,000 residents in 2013. Whites made up less than half the population in a total of 266 counties. Even though these 266 counties made up only 11 percent of the counties analyzed, they contained 31 percent of the country’s total population, with many of them home to dense urban areas. Most of these counties are sprinkled around the Sun Belt states in southern part of the country (below). Of the 25 counties with the largest total populations, 19 now have non-white majorities. As of 2000, six of these (four in California and two in Florida) had white majorities. The most dramatic change within the last decade can be seen in counties in Georgia. The share of white residents in Henry County, for example, fell from 80 percent in 2000 to a little less than 50 percent in 2013. It is interesting to see where these counties are located and think of the social forces that led to this. Not all of these counties have the same mix of minority groups or the same history. Some of the counties are those with large cities where white populations declined with suburban growth. Some of the counties are in the South with large black populations. There are some counties in the Great Plains, southwest, and northwest that have large Native American populations. There are counties with large Latino populations, largely in the southwest and those involving immigrant gateways. There are also some counties with large Asian populations – the phenomenon behind the concept of ethnoburbs – though I wonder if there are many with 50% or more Asians. Thus, while this data corroborates the ongoing trend of whites constituting a smaller percentage of the American population (currently around 63%), the increasing minority population is not monolithic nor does it influence all places in the same ways. # “5 Reasons That Hispanic Homeownership Will Define Housing’s Future” Where will the housing market turn in the near future? A new report suggests a move toward Latinos: 1. Hispanic Homeownership – Since 2000, the number of Hispanic owner households has increased from 4.242 million to 6.810 million, a rise of 60.54 percent; in just the last four years, in fact, Hispanic owner households have risen 614,000. 2. Hispanic Households – When we extend our parameters to overall households, the numbers are even more stunning. In 2014, the number of Hispanic households grew by 320,000, or 40 percent of total U.S. household growth. 3. The Hispanic Population – Since 1970, the Hispanic population has increased by 592 percent. No, that is not a typo! Even more, the Hispanic population is expected to reach 120 million by 2050, more than double what it is today. 4. Hispanics in the Labor Force – Thus far in the new millennium, Hispanics have accounted for 65 percent of the growth in the U.S. labor force, and every year, one million U.S.-born Latinos enter adulthood; with numbers like that, it’s no surprise that Hispanic purchasing power is$1.5 trillion, and is projected to grow to $2.0 trillion by 2020 (that’s an increase of$500 billion!).

5. Hispanics in Housing – Sixty-five percent of top agents NAHREP surveyed expected 2015 to be a “breakout year” for Hispanic homeownership, but NAHREP’s report pulled no punches on the considerable barriers that remain for homebuyers, among them a lack of affordable housing, competition from cash investors and tight lending standards – problems will have to be overcome before homeownership can truly take off.

Reasons #2-4 involve demographics: an increasing population leading to more households and workers. Reasons #1 and 5 address more Hispanics getting involved in the housing market: an increasing number of owners, optimism from realtors, and factors limiting even more Hispanics from owning homes.

The demographics are suggestive but the evidence in reasons #1 and 5 is limited. Census figures from the last quarter of 2014 suggest there is still a long ways to go: the homeownership rate for non-Hispanic white alones was 72.3% but only 44.5% for Hispanic (of any race) and 42.1% for Black alone. A growing population and jobs alone are not enough; homeownership often involves consistently good jobs and wealth as well as access to capital and housing at cheaper levels of the housing market where homeowners can get a start.

# Percent of American teenagers at its lowest point ever

The development of the age category teenager has been influential in American society but recent data suggests the percent of Americans who are teenagers has never been lower:

Here’s the total number of 13-to-19 year olds over the past 50 years. (The most recent data from the Census Bureau is an estimate from 2013.)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out in different social spheres including:

1. Education. Does this mean the closing of schools/colleges and fewer jobs for educators?

2. Marketing. Teenagers wanted to utilize their disposable income and brands wanted to hook them as consumers for life. But, with fewer teenagers, brands will really have to make sure they reach enough teenagers.

3. Suburbs. These areas have been devoted to children for decades while also not knowing what to do with teenagers who often wanted to escape the relatively dull, often private settings.

4. All sorts of occupations. Are there certain industries that won’t attract enough teenagers?

I could go on. But, I would also note that there may be even fewer teenagers if it hadn’t been for higher birth rates among the tens of millions of immigrants who have made their way to the United States in recent decades.